Blog: Our weekend watchlist, take three


Image via Wikimedia Commons

“Candy Jar” release poster.

By The Pitt News Staff

Here at The Pitt News, we’ve been having a good bit of fun sharing our favorite films and TV shows on popular streaming services for our eager audience. After posting one blog specifically for series to watch and another one dedicated to movies, we will list both films and shows this week. For the third time, our weekend watchlist is back by popular demand.

“Hot Fuzz” // Vikram Sundar, Staff Writer

Netflix // Directed by Edgar Wright // Grade: A

Let me set the record straight here. “Shaun of the Dead” is not the best of Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy. People always say, “wow, Nick Frost was so funny in that movie,” or, “haha Simon Pegg was hilarious in the record scene,” but at the end of the day, that’s all it is really — a few good laughs with some occasional tear-jerker moments.

Now, if you ask me, it wasn’t until “Hot Fuzz” three years later that Edgar Wright really refined his budding skills and offered more in a film than just comedy. It’s likely you’ve seen “Hot Fuzz” at least once scrolling through Netflix under one of the action categories, since it’s been a staple of the platform for years, but you were probably deterred from watching it either because the title sounded sketchily erotic or it looked like a one-note action film from the way Netflix presents it.

But “Hot Fuzz” is neither of these. It’s a little bit of everything, with elements of comedy, action, horror, mystery, western and even musical. The story follows a hardened, by-the-books city cop named Nicholas Angel, who is used to raids and car chases, and his transition to the ambient decadence and petty crimes of a rural farm town. The town is unnaturally idyllic and has a ridiculously low crime rate, which unnerves Nicholas, who mistakes this feeling to be his paranoia from his city days. Is he right to abandon his instincts or is something really sinister taking place in this quaint little farm town?

“Hot Fuzz” is a very funny film that plays with genre tropes and subverts expectations, but doesn’t downplay its memorable moments of intense gun brawls or chilling jump scares. It’s a rare blend of a smart film with details galore and a mindless joyride from beginning to end.

“Sabrina the Teenage Witch” // Alexa Marzina, Staff Writer

Hulu // Directed by Tibor Takacs // Grade: B+

Since I haven’t been brave enough to delve into some of the newer magical-themed shows on Netflix, I prefer watching one of my old favorite spooky shows. A few weeks ago, I eagerly searched Hulu for one of my favorite after-school shows of my childhood and thankfully, Sabrina was there to greet me. The sarcastic comedy of the show hits all the right funny bones but also offers some simple life lessons — like turning your arch nemesis into a goat isn’t always the right answer.

As a child, I loved the magical and kooky plotlines and innocent romance between Sabrina and her boyfriend Harvey Kinkle, but during my rewatch I identified a new favorite aspect of the show: Salem’s crying. I never noticed how much Salem (voiced  by Nick Bakay), the Spellman family cat, cried or complained when I was younger, but as an adult I can relate to his feelings more than ever. Eat too much food and feel bloated? Cry. Finally have the house to yourself but then get lonely? Cry. Turns out my life is more like a cat’s than I thought. Bakay produces a truly memorable muffled moaning cry that gets a chuckle out of me every time Salem gets himself into a bad situation.

The show is a classic, and everyone should give it a watch to be immediately transferred back into the late 1990s and early 2000s — but with a magical twist, of course.

“Carmen Sandiego” // Victoria Pfefferle-Gillot, Senior Staff Writer

Netflix // Directed by Jos Humphrey and Kenny Park // Grade: A

Astute ’90s kids will remember a certain educational computer game featuring a mysterious red-clad master thief who traveled everywhere across the world and always escaped capture. Everyone’s always asked, “Where is Carmen Sandiego?” but no one asks, “Who is Carmen Sandiego?”— or better yet, “Why is Carmen Sandiego?” Thanks to this brand-new animated Netflix show, we can finally start to get those answers too.

Released Jan. 18, “Carmen Sandiego” follows the eponymous heroine (Gina Rodriguez) as she travels the globe stealing from VILE — Villains International League of Evil — with the help of Canadian white-hat hacker Player (Finn Wolfhard) and Bostonian siblings Zack (Michael Hawley) and Ivy (Abby Trott). The series keeps to its educational roots and regularly discusses interesting facts and history of each locale but in a way that is unobtrusive to the story. The tone is upbeat and humorous while also delving into some more serious narrative themes.

The first season is only 9 episodes long, and each one only 22 minutes, so it was an easy binge and left me wanting more of the world and the characters. The animation style is gorgeous and fluid and the design of each character — hero and villain alike — is fun and creative.  Whether or not “Carmen Sandiego” brings back a nostalgic twinge, it’s definitely one that will steal your heart.

“That 70’s Show” // Sarah Connor, Culture Editor

Netflix // Directed by David Trainer // Grade: A

I am not much of a TV-watcher. When my friends and family members are glued to the TV, waiting for the next episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” or “The Voice,” you can find me listening to podcasts or watching a movie. There are very few television shows that can hold my attention. But one show that can is the classic teen sitcom, “That 70s Show.”

Maybe it’s the classic Red Forman (Kurtwood Smith) “foot in ass” jokes or the undying ditz of Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), but the show never fails to make me laugh. I finished all eight seasons back in high school, but just keep restarting the series. It is perfect background noise for the nights when I’m cleaning my apartment or having friends over for dinner, and the one-liner jokes always get me.

“That 70s Show” is not just iconic for me, it ran from 1998-2005, making it Fox’s second-longest running sitcom of its time after “Married … with Children.” The show was iconic amongst my high school friends and I. We have numerous inside jokes that reference the show, and we still use them to this day. This classic show will always have a special place in my heart.

“Candy Jar” // Tamara Alchoufete, For The Pitt News

Netflix // Directed by Ben Shelton // Rating: A-

This 2018 Netflix original is a light-hearted movie that tells the story of a realistic end to one’s high school experience. The film captures a tough time we all went through as college students, and creates a relatable watch experience. Working to get that diploma isn’t just sunshine and rainbows. A new strain of the stress virus develops in a person who wants to go to a 4-year college after high school. The application process is ruthless, especially if you want to get into Ivy League schools like debate rivals Lona Skinner (Sami Gayle) and Bennet Russell (Jacob Latimore).

At the beginning of the film, the audience learns about Lona through her internal monologue plagued with hatred for Bennet. She also expresses her anxiety over applying to Harvard and desire to be president of the school’s debate team. Lona lives with her mother, Amy (Christina Hendricks), in a middle-class home and has a polar-opposite lifestyle from Bennet, her arch nemesis since they were kids.

Kathy (Helen Hunt) is their school’s guidance counselor that acts as their confidant to talk through all of their woes, especially when Lona and Bennet become co-presidents of the debate team and have to go into finals as partners. Kathy is such a wholesome character as she helps these young people through their toughest times, which is something we all needed at some point in our high school days.